What to Do if Your Cat Gets Lost

Red tabby cat

Have you ever wondered what you would do if your cat was suddenly missing? The most important thing to do is to remain calm and implement a plan to find your lost cat.

As a full-time animal communicator who specializes in working with missing animals, I have worked with thousands of animals and their human companions or caretakers. Through my years of experience, I have found many helpful tips that, if implemented, will increase your chances of being reunited with your lost cat.

Helpful Tips for Finding Lost Cats:

1. Create a laminated ‘lost cat’ sign that contains the word ‘REWARD’ at the top, a recent color picture of the animal in the center of the sign and the phone number to contact if your cat is seen by someone or found. It’s very important not to list any other details. Using too many details clutters the sign and makes it more difficult for people to remember the information. NOTE: Use a large enough sign that it can be seen by drivers from their cars. If the sign is too small, they will not be able to read the information.

2. Post the ‘lost cat’ sign around your neighborhood, at local veterinarian’s offices, at the county animal control shelter and at local animal rescue shelters.

3. If you live in a major city with a lot of restaurants nearby, provide each restaurant with the ‘lost cat’ sign or fliers. After all, the animal will find food wherever it is convenient.

4. If your cat is micro-chipped, contact the issuing company (e.g. Avid, Home Again) and ensure that they have your current contact information on file.

5. Visit your local animal control offices and local animal rescue shelters daily to see if your cat is among those at the shelters. Unfortunately, most animal control offices have a very short time frame that they can house animals. So, it’s very important to take the time to do this. In addition, the shelters often use volunteers to work in the facilities. These volunteers change on a daily basis. So, who you spoke to yesterday may not be there today.

6. Place a ‘lost cat’ ad in your local newspaper and on web sites that are typically used in your area to post missing pet information. Include the same information that you have on the ‘lost cat’ sign.

7. Check ‘found cat’ ads in the local newspaper, on local animal rescue shelter web sites, and on various web sites where found pet information can be posted.

8. Canvas a three-block radius around your neighborhood from your home. It is important to literally knock on doors and talk to your neighbors so they are aware that your cat is missing. If they aren’t home, leave a flier with your pet’s photo and your contact information on it.

9. Set a humane trap, pet taxi or crate in a safe area near the exterior of your home (e.g. front porch, deck, back porch) and cover the back and sides with a towel or blanket that has your scent or your cat’s scent on it. Check on the trap, taxi or crate frequently but do it discretely so as not to scare your cat away. Put a bowl of fresh soft cat food, tuna or sardines in the enclosure to lure the cat into the enclosure. Also, include a towel, blanket or other familiar item with your scent or your cat’s scent on the outside of the enclosure. You may catch other animals as well, but you might also catch your own cat if they are nearby. If you do happen to catch other animals, release them from the trap while you are standing at the back of the trap. They will generally run away very quickly and not look back.

10. If you live in a neighborhood that has a homeowner’s association, contact one of the board members and ask them to post your cat’s information on the neighborhood’s web site and to send out an e-mail to everyone in the neighborhood asking that you be called if someone sees your cat.

11. Provide a “lost cat” flier to drivers with regular routes in the area and ask them to contact you if they spot your missing cat. This includes mail carriers, trash collectors, school bus drivers, and delivery truck drivers (e.g. FedEx, UPS, etc.).

12. Actively keep searching for your lost cat no matter how much time has elapsed. Lost cats can turn up weeks, and sometimes months or years after they’ve gone missing.

While no one can guarantee that a missing cat will be reunited with their family, implementing these tips will increase your chances of locating your lost cat.

Lost cat articles on PoC


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What to Do if Your Cat Gets Lost — 9 Comments

  1. This article is a godsend, even to those of us who have been reunited with our missing cats. And that is because it can happen to anyone, regardless of whether the cats are indoor or indoor/outdoor. And this post is the best that I have seen for laying out the steps to take. #9, #10 and #11 had never occurred to me. And #12? I am still missing Michael, my “spotted-bellied sphinx” (term of endearment) silver-tabby, the most intelligent cat known to exist 😉 ,and it has been five years. I still canvas the old neighborhood, check w/my old neighbors and at the Capital Humane Society. I dream about him still, as well as daydream. And it takes a lot of self-control not to panic when your beloved cat goes missing. So I really like the fact that you made that Numero Uno. Really appreciate this information.

  2. These are very clear and easy to follow tips, Tim.
    #5 is very relevant to me and very important because the evil animal control confiscates any free roaming cat they see around here. It’s imperative not to wait long, hoping a cat will return, before going to the shelters. As you say, they won’t keep the cat around (3 days max). I have spent hours at our shelter going from room to room, cage after cage, looking. It’s heart wrenching but has to be done, because the facilities don’t keep records as to what vacinity a cat was taken from. The search would be a little easier if they did.
    And, like Caroline, #’s 9, 10, 11 are important tips that a lot of people wouldn’t think of.
    Thanks, Tim.

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